Eight Nightingale hospital surge hubs were built by the Government this winter for an undisclosed amount of money that now stand empty in anticipation of a wave that never came. MailOnline has more.
The temporary site on the grounds of Royal Preston Hospital is one of eight commissioned across England last month, when the fourth wave looked as if it could threaten the health service.
It has been assembled in the car park at the city’s biggest hospital in less than four weeks and can house roughly 100 Covid patients – but it is currently empty.
Local NHS bosses have indicated that the new hub might never be used and medical unions have warned it could swallow up staff and pull resources away from other parts of the health service.
Other make-shift structures are being built in London, Leeds, Solihull, Leicester, Stevenage, Ashford and Bristol for an undisclosed amount of money.
England’s original Nightingale hospitals, built in 2020, cost a total of £500million, which included running costs, stand-by costs and decommissioning costs. But they saw only light use before being mothballed.
The new, smaller sites will remain on standby to look after Covid sufferers who are not well enough to go home but need minimal supervision during their recovery.
Kevin McGee, chief executive of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Trust which looks after the Royal Preston, previously said: “My hope is that we never have to use it. We’re planning for it, and that’s quite right because we need to make sure that we put the appropriate capacity in place should we need it, but I’m hopeful we can manage within our core bed base.”
However, Dr Brian McGregor, of the British Medical Association (BMA), said staffing more beds would mean “falling further behind” on routine work.
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